Kik opens chat platform to third party bots, like H&M, Sephora and Vine

Kik users can now use chat bots to get makeup tips, play games or get local weather forecasts, as messaging app opens doors to third-party bot developers.
Waterloo, Ont.-based Kik is opening its chat network to third-party developers, with the launch of the Bot Shop developing platform, according to a release from the company on Tuesday. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

Kik Messenger, the chat network with 275 million registered users, has opened up to third-party developers by launching Bot Shop, a platform for developers to make and launch chat bots, the company said in a news release Tuesday. 

The Waterloo, Ont.-based Kik Interactive, which makes Kik Messenger, announced the launch of Bot Shop with sixteen bots, including ones from humour site Funny or Die, H&M, Sephora, Vine and The Weather Channel.

That means Kik users — which include around 40 per cent of all U.S. teens, according to Kik — can chat with Sephora's bot to get makeup tips, or get current local weather conditions and forecasts from The Weather Channel. Arterra is a chat-based adventure game that's exclusive to Kik, while users who chat with the H&M bot can tell the bot a piece of clothing, and the bot will suggest and entire outfit. 

Bots over apps

Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston has been pushing bots as the future of instead of apps, even going so far as to describe a possible future scenario where a Kik user at a Blue Jays game could scan a code through a chat app, order drinks and food from their seat and pay online by bot, instead of downloading another, separate app specific to a stadium or sporting arena.

"There's no new app to download, no new account to create, and, perhaps most importantly, no new user interface to learn. You just scan and chat," Livingston wrote.

Research by Catalyst Canada, a search marketing agency, showed that people are downloading fewer smartphone apps, and instead relying on a smaller number of core apps more often. In 2014, smartphone users had an average of 26 apps on their phone, but that dropped to an average of just under 19 apps in 2015.